06/02/2012 02:50 EDT | Updated 08/02/2012 05:12 EDT

UN condemns Canadian security practices over risk of torture, rights violations

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The United Nations is taking Canada to task for security practices it says expose Canadians and others to torture and allow war criminals to escape international justice.

A new report by the UN Committee Against Torture accuses Ottawa of being "complicit" to human rights violation committed against three Arab-Canadian men held in Syria after 9-11.

Canadian officials also played a role in the ill-treatment of Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay, the report contends, criticizing government delays in approving the child soldier's request to serve out his sentence in Canada.

"The committee is seriously concerned at the apparent reluctance on (the) part of the (government) to protect rights of all Canadians detained in other countries," the report reads.

It urges the federal government to issue an official apology to Canadians tortured by foreign jailers, including Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin.

The men should be compensated for what they went through, it reads.

All three are suing the federal government over its role in their detention abroad.

An inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci found Canadian officials had a hand in the men's torture through the sharing of information with foreign intelligence and police agencies.

The report also raises the alarm about the fate of prisoners that the Canadian military transferred into Afghan custody during the recently concluded combat mission.

Canada needs a policy that clearly bars the transfer of prisoners to countries where there are "substantial grounds" to suspect a risk of torture, regardless of any diplomatic assurances or arrangements, it reads.

The report also condemns Public Safety Minister Vic Toews' highly publicized move to catch alleged war criminals by posting their names and faces online.

The committee says it has heard that many of those accused of war crimes who were deported haven't faced justice in their country of origin.

The UN has asked Ottawa to respond to the report by June 2013, but the Harper government was quick to condemn the agency for the criticism.

"In times when there are serious concerns regarding human rights violations across the world, it is disappointing that the UN would spend its time decrying Canada," Julie Carmichael, a spokeswoman for Toews, said in an email Saturday.

"Canada is a nation of laws and the actions of our government uphold the highest standards in the protection of human rights."